Oceanography

Ocean Currents in the South Asian Archipelago

The losses of AirAsia QX8501 and Malaysia Airlines MH370 are tragic.  I hope that the relatives may find some comfort in the knowledge that their loved ones will have a lasting monument in improvements in air safety and in improved knowledge of our planet's oceans and climate.

As a direct result of the loss of MH370 a large scale ocean-floor survey was commenced, leading to almost daily discoveries of scientific importance. 

MH370 Operational Search Update—07 January 2015

The ice on Greenland formed due to processes in the deep Earth interior of the Arctic, large-scale glaciations that began about 2.7 million years ago. Prior to that, the northern hemisphere was so warm it was mostly without it, and that period lasted for 500 million years.

The big question geologically is why the glaciation of Greenland only developed so recently. 

It's because of the interaction of three tectonic processes. Greenland literally had to be lifted up, so that the mountain peaks reached into sufficiently cold altitudes of the atmosphere. Greenland also needed to move sufficiently far northward, which led to reduced solar irradiation in winter. Then a shift of the Earth axis caused Greenland to move even further northward.

Over the past decade, ocean acidification has started to receive recognition outside science, though primarily as another weapon in the 'carbon dioxide' culture war on the modern world, similar to methane being discussed this year.

Politics aside, it is a vital area for study and a new article outlines three major challenges to understanding the real issues and effects: It needs to expand from single to multiple drivers, from single species to communities and ecosystems, and from evaluating acclimation to understanding adaptation.  

Oceanlab Scientists Film Supergiant Amphipod and Deepest Fish

Scientists at the University of Aberdeen have set a new record for the world's deepest fish, a species of snailfish, which was filmed in the Mariana Trench this year.

The new finding was just one of several new species discovered, as well as the first footage of a living supergiant amphipod.

Predictions about specific effects of climate change were once common - but they turned out to be spectacularly wrong so there are fewer these days. In 2006, former Vice-President Al Gore said by 2016 it would be too late to do anything, while the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said African farmers would be suffering 50% yield drops by 2020 and the Himalayan glaciers would be gone by 2035. 

Today, the IPCC is more scientific and cautions against attributing specific weather events to global warming. They recognize that the public loses confidence in science itself when scientists engage in advocacy. But without reliable metrics, it is hard to know how pressing the issue is so someone has to put in some numbers. 

Though some see snowstorms and believe global warming has been exaggerated, a new study using predictions of Greenland ice loss and its impact on rising sea levels instead finds that other models may be greatly underestimating it.  

The new estimate simulates future distribution of lakes that form on the ice sheet surface from melted snow and ice, called supraglacial lakes. Previously, the impact of supraglacial lakes on Greenland ice loss had been assumed to be small, but the new research has shown that they will migrate farther inland over the next half century, potentially altering the ice sheet flow in dramatic ways.

In 1992, some shipping containers got washed overboard on a trip from Hong Kong to Tacoma. Among the losses was one containing 28,800 plastic bath toys known as Friendly Floatees - frogs, turtles, ducks, that kind of thing. It's not an uncommon event, storms cause, on average, about one container per day to get lost at sea, a minor amount when we consider how much shipping is done annually. 

A new estimate says that microplastic and macroplastic pollution could consist of as much as 269,000 tons floating in the world's oceans.

Though there has been no sufficient data to truly estimate the amount of plastic in the oceans, there has been no limit to guessing and speculation so Marcus Eriksen, from Five Gyres Institute, and colleagues set out to build a better model.

For their paper in PLOS ONE, they gathered data from 24 expeditions collected over a six-year period (2007-2013) across all five sub-tropical gyres, coastal Australia, Bay of Bengal, and the Mediterranean Sea.

Researchers from the University of Hawai'i (UH) and NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries today announced the discovery of an intact "ghost ship" in 2,000 feet of water nearly 20 miles off the coast of Oahu - the former cable ship Dickenson, later the USS Kailua.

Launched in Chester, Pennsylvania in early 1923 for the Commercial Pacific Cable Company, Dickenson was part of a global network of submarine cable that carried telecommunications around the world. Repairing cable and carrying supplies, Dickenson served the remote stations at Midway and Fanning Island from 1923 until 1941. it arrived in Pearl Harbor with evacuees from Fanning Island on December 7th, during the Japanese attack that brought America into World War II.